Club News

Irvine disappointed not to win on 'special' day

But boss pleased with opening-day performance

ALAN Irvine was disappointed his team could not hang on for all three points in their opening-day draw with Sunderland.

The Baggies boss admitted it was special day for him to be taking charge of his first-ever Barclay Premier League game.

But Albion could have not got off to a worse possible start as Lee Cattermole’s wonder-strike gave the Black Cats a five-minute lead.

Saido Berahino came to the rescue with a goal in either half – including a nerveless 42nd-minute penalty - to put the hosts ahead in a game they dominated for large periods.

But Sebastian Larsson pinched a point for the visitors with just five minutes to go to deny Irvine a perfect start.

“I’m disappointed really because I felt there were a lot of good things,” said the Albion chief.

“First of all I’m told that we didn’t come back from going behind last season, so that was really pleasing.

“It was a great response from the lads.

“Theirs was a magnificent strike and it could have been very challenging for the players.

“I thought they responded really well and felt we controlled the first half.

“We dominated and had a lot of momentum.

“It was one of those where you didn’t want half-time to come because we were in such a good position.

“We didn’t play as well second half and didn’t pass the ball as well as we had in the first half.

“We gave it away too cheaply at times.

“But then having got ourselves in front I hoped and probably expected us to stay in front.

“And I was disappointed with the nature of the goal and the fact we conceded it.”

Irvine received a warm welcome from the Hawthorns hordes before kick-off and was delighted he got to see the fans Boing Boing so early on in the campaign.

“The supporters were fantastic," he said.

“I loved it when they made lots of noise, especially when they did the Boing Boing. 

“They were fabulous.

“The first game of the season is always special.

“You’ve spent a lot of time working towards that.

“I don’t really like talking about things from a personal point of view so hopefully I won’t need to do this again.

“It was special for me as well – to do it in the Premier League was something special.”

Irvine admitted the Baggies’ spot-kick was ‘open to interpretation’.

But he also applied the same phrase to Craig Dawson’s disallowed second-half effort - which the Goal Decision System confirmed was over the line but was ruled out by referee Neil Swarbrick for a foul by Jonas Olsson on goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

“The penalty was soft," he said.

“I had a look at the referee to see what decision he was going to make.

“I didn’t immediately jump up and say it was a penalty.

“And had he not given it I probably wouldn’t have made too much of it either.

“It’s one for the referee. There were also a couple of incidents that I could question as well.

“But it’s very, very hard for the referee to make the right decisions all the time and in an instant.”

He added: “Craig’s effort was open to interpretation – a little bit like the penalty was.

“We conceded a free-kick which led to the build-up of their second goal, which again is open to interpretation.

“The referee has to make a decision and he’s done that.

“I’m sure some people will feel he’s made the right decision and some will feel the wrong one.”